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'Mayan Calendar' threat complicates psychological recovery from shootings

UPDATE: Student arrested in Gladstone after threatening Facebook post


by: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Tears well up in Sheriff Craig Roberts' eyes as he describes the events at Clackamas Town Center at a press conference last week.Clackamas County is beginning to gradually recover and come to terms with two people killed and one other person seriously wounded during a Dec. 11 afternoon attack in the Clackamas Town Center’s food court.

Cindy Ann Yuille, 54, a Kaiser nurse and resident of northeast Portland, and Steven Mathew Forsyth, 45, of West Linn, were killed.

Kristina Shevchenko, 15, is slowly recovering from a chest wound in the shooting and was taken by Life Flight to Oregon Health and Science University Hospital, where she was released Tuesday. Donations to benefit her recovery can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Hundreds of police vehicles seal off Clackamas Town Center Mall on Tuesday evening.But school administrators statewide have been investigating student and parent sources regarding a rumored shooting threat that could occur on Friday, Dec 21, vaguely relating to the end of the Mayan Calendar. The threat is especially concerning in Clackamas County coming the week following shootings at the Clackamas Town Center and Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

On Wednesday, a Gladstone High School parent alerted the school district of a student threat via on Facebook. The student, whose name was attached to the Facebook post, reportedly wrote on Tuesday night, “Imma blow up ur school on Friday!”

The student in question was immediately detained by school administration, said Principal Stu Evans, and the Gladstone Police Department transported the student to the Clackamas County Juvenile Detention Center. Clackamas County has a “Threat of Harm” assessment protocol that will be part of the processing done by the juvenile and mental health departments.

“I want to thank the parent and student who made us aware of this threat, and are obviously looking out for the safety of our school,” Evans said. "Any threat of this specific nature is information that schools need to know about as soon as possible, so that we may act in a timely and safe manner.”

This week, Evans locked an extra set of doors so that only the front entrance is open, where a staff person greets all visitors who have to sign in there to get a visitor pass, instead of reporting to the main office as is usual. GHS teachers, along with teachers at other high schools around the region, talked with students this week about intruder threats and shooter safety procedures.

Administrators across the state have also been investigating the Mayan Calendar threat. GHS officials had asked students to provide credible information relating to rumored threats of violence, but Evans enlisted the help of parents on Tuesday after turning up nothing substantial. Given the lack of credible information, school officials are planning a full day of school on Friday.

“If you or your student happened to come across any credible information, that could substantiate or put an end to these rumors, then please let us know right away,” Evans wrote to parents on Tuesday.

Talking with kids

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Mimi Tran tells her friends that she 'heard gunshots right above me, so I ducked and all this glass started pouring down the escalator, and we ran into American Eagle,' as she left Clackamas Town Center Tuesday night after a gunman shot several people at the mall. The mall was closed Tuesday evening, and all day Wednesday and Thursday, as law enforcement investigated the shooting. The mall’s owners, General Growth Properties of Chicago, managed to reopen the mall on Friday, when people tried to go back and begin recovering psychologically.

Steve ForsythKPAM 860 newscaster Terry Boyd was good friends with Forysth and saw the mall’s opening as a chance to broadcast there and begin the healing process.

“We need a way to begin to move on from this,” Boyd said.

Boyd shared his thoughts during a live report from a Friday evening candlelight vigil at the mall.

Cindy YuilleMilwaukie teacher Deborah Barnes’ middle daughter was working at California Pizza Kitchen when she got the call from her boss to “get outta there.” Many kids who were working at the mall or shopping there couldn’t get to their purses or backpacks until it reopened Friday.

Stress levels of students are affected by many factors, Barnes noted, but it didn’t help that many kids personally knew the killer, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts, who used a semi-automatic rifle he stole from a friend. Roberts went to Rowe Middle School and Milwaukie High School, finishing his degree in the Oregon City School District.

“One thing I’m hearing over and over is this is so out of character for this kid, so for them the hardest thing is wondering how this happened, and they see themselves as somehow culpable for their actions,” Barnes said. “So the most important thing for us to tell them as educators is: ‘It has nothing to do with you, and there was nothing you could have done to change what he did.’”

Gladstone Superintendent Bob Stewart also recommended that parents try to shield their youngest children from the initial trauma as much as possible.

“It’s as it’s happening, so that kind of thing really scares kids, so I would hope that parents do not let their kids watch TV with them after incidents,” Stewart said.

Dr. Lawrence Hipshman, a psychiatrist based at Kaiser’s Sunnyside Hospital in Clackamas, offered his expert practical advice on coping, and agreed that kids should be talking with their friends and family, not watching TV.

“Most importantly is that people stay with their families and do those things that they associate with caring,” Hipshman said.

In response to the tragic events at both the Clackamas Town Center and at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school on Friday, Dec. 14, Wendy Wilson, Gladstone elementary principal, Oregon City Superintendent Larry Didway and North Clackamas Superintendent Matt Utterback assured parents that the school districts will continue to take all the safety precautions necessary to ensure a safe school environment.

“Children need reassurance from those around them and a calm environment to feel safe,” Wilson wrote to parents. “It is important to keep with routines, as predictability helps to keep children feeling safe.”




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